What is Hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is inflammation of the liver due to a virus called the Hepatitis B virus (HBV), belonging to the family hepadnaviridae. Originally known as serum hepatitis, HBV was the first hepatitis virus to be identified. It is preventable with safe and effective vaccines that have been available since 1982. According to the World Health Organization, of the approximately 2 billion people worldwide who have been infected with the Hepatitis B virus, more than 350 million have chronic (lifelong) infections. Approximately 1.25 million of those infected with the Hepatitis B virus live in the United States. These chronically infected persons are at high risk of cirrhosis and liver cancer, diseases that kill about 1 million people worldwide each year.
The Centers for Disease Control attribute the Hepatitis B vaccine to the decline of new infections per year in the United States, from an estimated 260,000 in the 1980s to about 73,000 in 2003. The greatest decline has happened among children and adolescents due to routine Hepatitis B vaccination. Of the 1.25 million chronically infected Americans, 20 to 30 percent acquired their infection in childhood.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Hepatitis B Information for the Public" http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/B/index.htm Retrieved February 10, 2011
Dolan, Mathew, The Hepatitis Handbook. North Atlantic Books, 1999.
Palmer, MD, Melissa. Dr. Melissa Palmer’s Guide to Hepatitis & Liver Disease. New York: Avery Trade, 2004.